People talk a lot about KPI’s – Key Performance Indicators. They use various words to talk about them.
“What are your KPI’s?”
“What are your key metrics?”
“Do you have numbers you must hit?”
Merely accepting the first answer is a mistake. Remember, your aim at this point is to be a master appreciator. From great appreciation comes great inspiration.
Do not do what most people do. Do not merely accept the KPI’s, dutifully write them down to show you’re paying attention, and then move on to other things.
Instead, continue to drill in with questions in a Socratic attempt to appreciate why these are the KPIs.
When you understand why these are the KPIs, you will have built a mental model that allows you to think and imagine outcomes just as a CEO, board member or key investor in the company does.
If you understand why the KPIs are the KPIs, then you will be able to see change coming to those factors that affect success for the business. You will also be able to question the KPIs and help the client focus on the Performance Indicators that are truly Key.
For example, we worked for many years with an electronic broker. We asked the question, “What key measures drive the creation of value in the company? What key measures drive growth?”
After some discussion we got to three:
Increasing the total number of active clients. Increasing client trading activity Increasing the total number of assets in accounts. After some discussion, we decided that only the first two measures – the number of clients and their level of trading activity – were important drivers of value at that time. The reason for this was that interest rates were very low and therefore deposits were not a significant source of revenues, profits or business value.
Fortified with this appreciation of the drivers of growth in the value of this business, we were able to confidently move on to our next steps in generating that growth – asking and answering the question:
What key actions or behaviors drive those KPIs?
The KPI “increasing the number of total clients” was driven mostly by increases in the numbers of new funded accounts.
So, the behavior that would drive growth in this KPI was, “More customers opening new accounts and funding them.”
This was wonderfully focusing.
Increasing client trading activity was the second key driver of growth. Whereas in other categories, marketers are focused on increasing revenue per customer – for example, people who run shoe stores want to sell more pairs of shoes per customer and people who run e-commerce sites want to increase the average cart size – retail brokers had remained focused on acquiring new customers.
There were exceptions. We helped Tom Sosnoff, Lee Barba, Ainslee Simmonds and Lee McAdoo build thinkorswim (now part of TD Ameritrade) from a small and interesting digital options broker to a powerhouse with the industry’s most valuable customers.
Sosnoff, a savvy trader, was an even savvier entrepreneur, a born teacher and a natural movement leader. In short, he made options trading cool and never played down the risk or danger. This got thinkorswim to the summit base camp from which it would begin an even more rapid ascent.
Options traders trade a lot and pay well for their trades. When thinkorswim merged with Investools – a pioneer and leader in the online education space – they immediately had a way to dramatically scale the creation of new options traders.
People paid good money to Investools to teach them how to trade options. In exchange, Investools helped them to transform themselves into active options traders. Investools needed a platform for these student traders to trade on. It would have to offer simulated trading as well as real live trading.
Thinkorswim fit the bill perfectly.
Now, Investools students would learn to trade on the thinkorswim platform.
In addition, Investools substantial graduate list of tens of thousands of active options traders became available to thinkorswim for remarketing. Half of those former students became thinkorswim clients.
Next, thinkorswim began to integrate Investools training into its platform and customer service offerings. This increased trading volume and dramatically grew the value of the business.
The key insight here: new trading concepts and ideas lead to more trades.
We would mine this insight for our new client and take it even further, programming trade ideas into software apps that could also execute the trades.
Since our key driver of grow was increased trading volume, which we thought of as increased volume per client, the behavior that would drive this growth was defined as “one more trade per customer per month.”
This would make a real difference in the value of the business, and it was just a start. Just trading volume summit base camp, a milestone on our way to the top.
Since the behavior was “the client makes one more trade per month” we went to work to address the blocks to that behavior. Our clients were already more active than nearly all the other retail brokerage clients in the industry. But, what kept them from being even more active?
Remember that if you want to increase a behavior, you need to combine motivation and ease in the same moment – (MxE)Same Moment = Behavior.
We spent thousands of hours watching traders trade. We got to know their multi-screen set-ups and the joys – and sometimes intimacy avoidance – of their basement trading lairs. We interviewed scores of them and the interviews were so compelling that we edited several of the audio recordings and paired them with animation to create authentic and effective tv commercials and digital videos.
The motivation was there. They wanted to trade more. In front of their screen was the moment. They only lacked the ideas, they told us.
All the time that wasn’t spent trading was spent trolling for ideas. They loved the trading. The trolling for ideas was the hard work that made the trading possible.
More ideas, delivered in the moment they are in front of their screens, made as easy as possible to understand and execute, would unlock the behavior we were looking for.
Trading ideas, programmed and ready to download and execute like apps on a mobile device, did the trick.
Traders reported being more satisfied and improved their performance. We got our one more trade per client per month and that was just the beginning of the growth in trading volume.
As a master change agent, you’ll bring the much-needed clarity to each situation. You’ll walk into rooms where everything seems important and the list of things to be solved is as long a Vaynerchuk’s YouTube feed.
And you’ll go right to the essentials.
What measures most affect growth? What behaviors drive those measures? With those questions asked and answered, you’ll get down to work.
How do we make those behaviors motivating and easy (in the same moment)? You are well on your way to building your Theory of Change. The next steps help you prioritize and focus still further.
When Weight Watchers first came to us in the spring of 2015, the brand was in an alarming state…
The previous months had been some of the worst in the iconic company’s history, with substantial dips in subscriptions, sign-ups, and revenue, leading to the stock plummeting from $25 to $7 per share.
At the same time, the category was facing fierce and unfamiliar competition in the form of wearable tech, free fitness and calorie counting apps, and niche diets that were sweeping the internet. The consumer was now living in a choice-filled world, which led to powerful defenses. Inaction is exacerbated by the unprecedented level of emotional distance and skepticism that people are feeling, primarily because they are overwhelmed.
The conversation shifted, and no one was talking about Weight Watchers. With the brand on the “brink of irrelevance,” they needed more than just an agency – they needed an ally.
That’s when they came to us to inspire action.
The client couldn’t afford to be patient. Like any true change agent, our client couldn’t sacrifice brand for revenue or revenue for brand – they needed both, and urgently.
The challenge: refresh the brand to drive both recruitment and brand value.
The timeline? One month.
30 days to diagnose the previous failed strategy, create and choose offers, plan channels, agree on a brief, conceive and write scripts and concepts, and then produce, launch and traffic two television commercials and a digital campaign.
We accepted the challenge, and with confidence. From our work with Reader’s Digest, Netflix, eBay, Fresh Direct, and many others, we knew subscription-model businesses. We knew the health and wellness category. We knew the immense pressure and responsibility our client felt. We knew we could help.
Executing a process that most agencies require four to six months to complete in just 30 days would require all hands on deck and inspiring collaboration with our client. With both teams excited by the new partnership and the challenge ahead, we immediately went to work.
There are two ways that we can change behavior: by increasing motivation and by making it easier for our audience to take action.
Weight loss is one of the toughest behavioral challenges of our times. Sometimes people might be very motivated to lose weight, but lack the skills to do it. They don’t know how to do it, and the environment does not make it easy for people to lose weight. Life gets in their way.
To overcome these challenges, Weight Watchers needed to hit both, motivation and ease.
With our first campaign, we tapped into people’s natural desire to change by modeling behavioral change. People learn new ways of behaving by watching others. Modeling can be very powerful when it creates a new social norm. And there’s generally a tipping point when not participating in the action becomes the odd behavior.
In a four-week sprint, and with our client involved at every step, we conceived, developed, and went to market with a winning campaign that focused on the brand’s secret ingredient – its members – while highlighting the special offer of a free starter kit to increase ease.
The starter kit was a key. Everyone’s journey to weight loss is unique, but almost always, making the commitment to start is the hardest part. Most diets only last a few days because results don’t happen overnight.
With a free starter kit, the consumer now had something tangible to symbolize this new chapter of transformation. It gave them the tools they needed to succeed, and made them feel confident they could stay the course. It was a constant reminder of the empowering path they were on.
The campaign generated excitement and restored consumers’ motivation to act, leading to the first up quarter of recruitment in years. The stock price went back up, and for the first time in a while, the future was hopeful. Still, our work was far from finished.
In 2016, our brand planners helped us strategically prepare to launch a campaign around Weight Watchers’ new program, SmartPoints, one of the brand’s biggest innovations in 50 years.
Understanding the human behaviors that would ultimately drive action, our client doubled down on our consumer-centric approach and engaged the members like never before. We worked with Weight Watchers to cast real members talking about their experiences, capturing the values of the brand and its audience at the same time.
New signups surged, with increases in subscribers, meeting attendees, and an immediate 5% North American revenue lift.
With a new program in place, our client had something others didn’t – real results with real people.
Our Fall 2016 sprint started with a happier problem; Members were losing 15% more weight on beyond the scale.
How could our client get the news out in a way that would get noticed? Once again, the client inspired action, reaching out to real members and super fans. But this time, through Weight Watchers’ own app, Connect, which has been called the most positive social network on earth.
We asked members to film themselves telling us their success stories and living the program. A technique we’ve dubbed, the Selfifesto®.
And like the program, the campaign worked, inspiring the audiences to act in ways that benefit them.
During our over three-year partnership with Weight Watchers, our client achieved 10 consecutive quarters of recruitment growth. The stock grew from $7 to $107 per share, and Weight Watchers reached its highest marketing efficiency since 2008.
Together, we helped revitalize the brand, breaking down the barriers to motivation to gain over 1 million new members a year. We increased their commitment, made the path easy, and helped them each make more inspiring decisions and form more empowering habits.
That’s the master change agent way. That’s inspiring action.